Blogging the Apocalypse: 6


28 Oct

Here's a subtle essay about the importance of institutions. It claims that both Trump and Johnson have endangered their versions of liberal democracy by taking institutions off in dangerous directions. See what you think here.


An extract: '

There is a pivotal scene in the recent Showtime two-part series The Comey Rule in which the recently fired Attorney General Sally Yates (played by Holly Hunter) is giving her aide Justin Patel a ‘buck-up’ speech. She tells him to go outside and look at the capital buildings: “they’ve been here a long time,” she says “and they’re gonna be here a long time, because what they represent is eternal: institutions, the rule of law. No matter who’s in power.” Nothing could be further from the truth, as Yates’ successor Rod Rosenstein seems to recognise when Patel repeats the speech to him at the series’ denouement. Buildings can represent many things, and are not stable signifiers. Institutions and the rule of law, far from being eternal, change over time and are vulnerable to the wills of those in power.

That’s why its important to fight against bad uses of institutions, not because they use institutions improperly, but because they are bad. There is no eternal, divine or natural state of institutions, as Yates implies. For a person with the considerable power of a US Attorney General to believe that there is is a cop-out. It means that it doesn’t really matter if she and all of the other people in that film who are devoted to preserving institutions fail, things will still turn out alright. It supposes that there is a natural way for the institutions to be, and therefore a fatalism which will ensure that eventually they (and everything else) will turn out for the best.

If that were true, political struggles wouldn’t really matter. But they do matter, because the fate of institutions, and our fate as well, is only what we make of them. In another recent political drama, Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago Seven, Sorkin has the political activist Abbie Hoffman, played by Sacha Baron Cohen, mouth the improbable, uncharacteristically reverent words: “I think the institutions of our democracy are wonderful things that right now are populated by some terrible people.” The separation that Sorkin wants to draw between the institutions and the people who run them can’t be made. That’s why it matters who runs them, and why we have to fight to make our institutions into what we need them to be; because the last four years have shown beyond a doubt that our institutions will not protect us.'

 

Read the complete novel  47094 from the beginning here.

Read the complete novel  'The Ecstatic Silence' here.